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Stakeholders in Public Relations

Stakeholders are a central part of public relations.

Stakeholders play a central role in public relations.

Typical stakeholders in PR.
Typical stakeholders in PR.

Many struggle with understanding the difference between marketing and PR. The stakeholder overview shows that there is a clear overlap between marketing and ‘marketing PR’. But whereas marketing primarily use paid channels (like advertising), PR typically uses earned, shared, and owned channels (see also the PESO model).

It’s also common to find PR specialists arranging themselves according to the stakeholder model.

The focus on stakeholders in PR

Stakeholders can be considered one of three main focuses for an organisation’s PR function.

How to define public relations

PR (public relations) = the strategic and tactical use of communication to develop and maintain relationships with stakeholders, influencers, and publics.

Please note:

stakeholders — with various interests in the organisation.

influencers — gatekeepers with important audiences.

publics — groups with key communicative behaviors.

Learn more about public relations.

Influencers and publics exists regardless of the organisation, but stakeholders exists solely because of the organisation.

“In a corporation, a stakeholder is a member of “groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist”, as defined in the first usage of the word in a 1963 internal memorandum at the Stanford Research Institute. The theory was later developed and championed by R. Edward Freeman in the 1980s. Since then it has gained wide acceptance in business practice and in theorizing relating to strategic management, corporate governance, business purpose and corporate social responsibility (CSR).”

Source: Wikipedia

Developing and maintaining relationships with various stakeholders is a major challenge for PR professionals since their information needs are typically very different. From a resource perspective, the PR function must always struggle to find the right balance in prioritizing these needs.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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